Wiltshire Police is raising awareness about knife crime and giving people the chance to hand in their unwanted blades as part of a national campaign of action and education.
Operation Sceptre launches today (15/11) and will combine operational activity with a focus on informing young people, parents, carers and schools about the work taking place to tackle violent crime.
Officers and staff from Wiltshire Police work with a wide range of stakeholder partners, including the two local authorities, public health, youth workers and charities, with the aim of coming together to help prevent knife crime and young people becoming involved in violence.
A two week amnesty will also run alongside Op Sceptre (15 - 26 November) where several amnesty bins will be placed in local police stations and public buildings (see full list and opening times at the end of the article) for people to dispose of their knives and other bladed weapons without fear of prosecution.
Assistant Chief Constable Debs Smith said: "Knife crime nationally has increased but thankfully here in Wiltshire it remains comparatively low. It is something that still only impacts a small proportion of people living here, and is certainly lower than in other parts of the country.
“However, that doesn’t mean we should become complacent in our approach. We still need to take steps to prevent this awful crime happening; for those it does affect - directly and indirectly - the consequences can be devastating.
“We know that knife crime often involves our young people, and - although most children and teenagers are not involved in criminal activity, nor would they ever dream of carrying a knife or bladed weapon - we know that possession of knives is on the rise nationally.
"Young people hear about it on the news, they talk about it at school, and we know some, because they tell us, would carry a knife for protection. However, we know carrying a blade means you are more likely to find yourself in a situation where you could get seriously injured or even killed.
"We, the police, can't stop knife crime alone, so Operation Sceptre is about us working with our partners like the local authorities, charities and other emergency services, as well as the public to educate, engage and prevent knife crime. Also, giving people the opportunity to get rid of those illegal knives during our amnesty - especially as legislation around the ownership of certain knives has recently changed, making it illegal to have these knives even if they are just left at home.
"Also, my officers will enforce the law; to those who think it is ok to carry a knife and inflict violence in our communities, it's not. We will not tolerate this. You will end up facing significant consequences if you continue to carry one.
"We need to get to a position in our communities, within peer groups, and within families where carrying a knife or blade is not just frowned upon, it is seen as completely unacceptable."
On the amnesty, Inspector David Tippetts said: "Knives are used as an everyday tool in the home and in industry, but when placed in the wrong hands or adapted for the wrong purpose this can have devastating consequences.
"There are 13 special amnesty bins at locations across the county - at police stations and specified churches or community centres - where people can safely dispose of their unwanted and illegal knifes and blades. Those handing in knives and weapons will not face prosecution for possession of a knife or weapon and can remain anonymous.
"The law around possessing certain types of knives just in one's home has changed this year; so to help people abide by the new legislation they can use this amnesty as an opportunity to remove any illegal weapons from their homes.
"Any incidents of knife crime are a major concern but the public should be reassured that we will continue to vigorously investigate offences linked to any knives or weapons recovered.
"Please do the right thing to help keep Wiltshire safe."
Wiltshire PCC Philip Wilkinson said: "“Whilst our officers are doing great work to get knives off the streets in Wiltshire, more needs to be done to make sure people feel safe in their communities.
“It’s ultimately through the work of our early intervention teams that we’ll be able to effectively deal with knife crime. Knife crime not only ruins the lives of victims and their families but also of the perpetrators, who, in the majority of cases, are young.
“The Police and law enforcement agencies have their part to play in stopping knife crime but my office and other bodies have to intervene earlier where necessary, to make sure that we’re providing positive alternatives and opportunities to those who are at risk and vulnerable to being targeted and drawn in."
Anyone handing in a knife or weapon during the amnesty is advised to check the opening times of their nearest bin by visiting the Wiltshire Police website or calling 101.
If you have information about someone who carries a knife or is involved knife crimes please call us on 101 or 999 in an emergency. Information can also be left anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Amnesty bin locations:
• Gablecross Swindon (Monday to Friday 8.30am-5.30pm, Saturdays- 9am to 1pm, Closed Sunday) • Christchurch, Swindon (Monday to Sunday 8am-5pm) • Pattern Church, Swindon (Tuesday – Thursday 9:30am-4.30pm, Sunday 9am-11.30 and 5pm-7pm) • Pinetrees Community Centre, Pinehurst, Swindon (Monday to Friday 8am-6pm) • Marlborough Police Station (Tuesday and Thursday 9am-5pm (Closed 12.45pm-1.15pm), Wednesday 9am-12.30pm, Closed Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Friday) • Melksham Police Station (Monday to Friday 8.30am-5.30pm, Closed weekends) • St Andrews Church, Melksham (Monday to Friday 11am -3pm, Closed weekends) • Monkton Park, Chippenham (Monday to Friday 8.30am - 5.30pm: please note there will be a reduced service between midday and 2pm, Closed weekends) • Trowbridge Police Station (Monday to Friday 8.30am-5.30pm, Saturday 9am-1pm, Closed Sunday) • St James Church, Trowbridge (Monday to Saturday 10am – 12pm, Closed Sunday) • St James Church, Devizes (Monday 12pm-7pm, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 12pm-4pm, Saturday 9am-12pm) • Bourne Hill Salisbury (Monday to Friday 8.30am - 5.30pm, Saturday 9am - 1pm, Closed Sundays) • SP2 Community Centre Salisbury (Monday to Friday 10.30am - 4pm, Saturday 10am – 2pm, Closed Sunday)